Without even realizing it, I’ve made my life’s work out of unlocking the secret to tousled hair—assuming, perhaps foolishly, that there is even one out there to be found. I have sat in stylist’s chairs and asked for “wave-enhancing layers” that invariably turn my baby-fine strands into an unfortunate feathered shag, tried a dizzying number of texturizing products and sea-salt sprays, and very recently subjected myself to a (successful!) chemical waving treatment, a slave to my own vanity with bad-smelling hair.
It’s unlikely that I will ever suss out a method effective enough to satisfy my need—there are always more products, more expert tips ’n’ tricks, more directions in which to rotate a flat iron. But there have been several close calls, things that make me stop and think, Could this be it? Right now, I’m having those kinds of feelings about L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle TXT IT Tousle Waves Spray—which, at $4.49 a bottle, may very well be cheaper than anything else I own.
Fast facts: This spray smells good—light and fresh, not sweet or overwhelming or suffocating at first spritz. It emphasizes my natural wave rather than just making my hair look arbitrarily messy and unwashed. It doesn’t create any stickiness, crunchiness, or the general sense that my hair has something in it. A quick mist or five on dry hair from several inches away, a little bit of scrunching here and there, a spin with the curling iron if I’m feeling up to it, and I’m good. The method is as fast as the facts.
The secret, if you could call it that, is in the list of ingredients, where sea salt mingles with conditioning components like arginine, glutamic acid, and serine—amino acids—and xylose, a form of sugar that provides superior heat protection. (Who knew?) It’s not quite a salt spray as we know it, but rather a hybrid of everything you really need from a styling product to create soft, loose, legitimately easy texture and waves. And it’s less than $5.